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MEDP Spark – McMinnville WORKS: Making McMinnville a Home

Jul 13, 2016

MEDP Spark, Volume 1, Issue 7 -- July 2016

On June 13, 2016, 20 interns hired through the McMinnville WORKS Internship Program to 14 different host companies began their first official day. The interns come from surrounding colleges and other Oregon locations while one intern, Andrew Marino, traveled from Virginia Tech University for the opportunity to work as an engineering intern with Meggitt Polymers & Composites. Though some interns have been living in McMinnville for a while, with two McMinnville High School graduates and five Linfield College students/graduates enrolled in the program, for others, it’s their first chance to spend time here.

Already, the interns are discovering what it means to live in McMinnville. During her first week, Visit McMinnville’s Video Production Intern, Geneva García described the town as: “very quaint, calm, and a little cultural haven just waiting to be discovered.” Other reactions have been similar; Matthew Draper said McMinnville seemed like a new beginning where one could start a family, while Heather McNutt-Kaestner identified the town as beautiful with great community values.

Considering McMinnville was ranked number one in a recent article about the “most enchanting mid-sized cities in Oregon,” we’re not entirely surprised by these responses. But, the connection these summer residents have goes beyond the critically acclaimed restaurants and our top-rated Main Street. What really captured these interns’ attention is the way the city and businesses connect with one another.


Tatum Chidlaw, HR/Marketing intern at the Willamette Valley Medical Center, described the phenomenon as McMinnville’s dedication to staying local. While Chris Poole, Social Media Marketing intern at Oregon Lithoprint pointed to the communities’ desire to be there for one another. “It’s a town that really cares about everyone else in the town. If there’s something that someone needs, chances are there’s another company that’s willing to help out.”

MEDP’s intern, Lacey Dykgraaf, has seen this herself: “As a Linfield graduate, I was surprised at how little of McMinnville I knew in four years of living here. But once you step off the campus and get to know the business owners and community members, you realize there must be a reason everyone cares for this town so deeply. There must be a reason so much love is put into everything McMinnville does and makes.”

Despite being a small town, the reverberations from McMinnville can be seen around the world. As Alex Ogle, Research and Development Scientist at Sea Reach Ltd. described, “I was actually surprised at how many manufacturing businesses there are. There’s all these places that you wouldn’t know are making products that go out all across the nation and it’s just like, oh, that’s right in our backyard.”

Learning from Professionals: Logan Malloy from Express Employment Professionals gives expert advice on resume structure and content to McMinnville WORKS interns.

The consensus seems to be once you meet the people working and living here, everything changes. No longer is McMinnville a town that’s “sort of close to Portland.” Instead, it became a community that’s passionate about the success of its neighbors. Already the interns are seeing the generosity: community leaders and business owners give their time for the Professional Development Workshops where interns are learning skills from job search techniques to civic participation and project management. Other businesses and organizations are welcoming them with open arms. The first Professional Development Workshop was held at the Evergreen Air and Space Museum where interns learned about marketing yourself from MEDP’s Jody Christensen and enjoyed gluten-free snacks that were donated by local business, Betty Lou’s Inc.

The McMinnville WORKS Internship Program started as part of the Grow Our Own initiative, which concentrates on bringing talented workers into Oregon. The program connects McMinnville businesses with high school and college students by advertising to Oregon colleges and beyond, bringing in over 170 applications for this year’s program alone. Since its inception in 2013, eight interns have been hired after completing their internships, truly growing our own workforce. While giving students and graduates applicable experience, the program has already showed it goes beyond a simple summer job for many of the participants. By joining in community events and networking opportunities, the interns in the 2016 program are learning what McMinnville is really about: supporting businesses through collaborative partnerships with people who genuinely care. With the community behind them, in just a few weeks the 2016 McMinnville WORKS interns have already been able to make McMinnville a home.

Network turned connection turned friendship: the McMinnville WORKS interns take a hike together on the weekend at Cascade Head trail. Photo credit: Alexander Ogle.

Lacey Dykgraaf was the McMinnville WORKS Internship Coordinator for the McMinnville Economic Development Partnership during the summer of 2016. A recent graduate from Linfield College, with degrees in English and Marketing, she enjoys producing creative content and telling stories.

MEDP would like to thank the 14 host companies/organizations participating in this year’s McMinnville WORKS Internship Program: Cascade Steel, City of McMinnville, Cellar Ridge Construction, McMinnville Chamber of Commerce, MEDP, Meggitt Polymers & Composites, OnlineNW, Oregon Lithoprint, Sea Reach Ltd., Solid Form Fabrication, Suite 4, Visit McMinnville, Willamette Valley Medical Center, and Yamhill County Clerk. We would also like to thank all of the companies and professionals helping with the Professional Development Workshops and giving their time to speak with the 2016 interns. To learn more about the program and to be updated on the WORKS 2017 timeline, please email Lacey Dykgraaf at


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MEDP's monthly newsletter, The MEDP Spark, received a Silver Award from the International Economic Development Council in 2017.

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